What to Know Now

Social media are taking a bigger role in customer service every day, often times working better and faster than traditional methods. In the airline world, most carriers caught on. Delta led the charge with an omnipresence on Twitter, then American showed up and United hobbled behind. Now, I find that simple issues that a phone agent could fix can also be addressed by a Twitter agent — after all, both desks often use the same staff.

If you haven’t looked into it yet, Twitter’s the best place to start and airlines are the most responsive (Wendy Perrin, formerly from Conde Nast, has a great summary here). Hotels like Starwood and Marriott are accelerating their presence as well, though it can be hard to address issues at specific owner-operated hotels in specific cases. Skift’s new report on Social Media Customer Service in the Travel Industry provides a great breakdown of progress in the industry.

Either way, as frequent travelers it’s wise to invest in the new media as it grows — we may soon find a day in which Twitter is our only customer service line.

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Top Story

Have you been wondering why it’s been so darn cheap to get to Scandinavia over the past couple years? Scan any Google Flights map across Europe and you’ll see that where London, Paris and Madrid are priced normally, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki are consistently $200 – $300 less.

Thank Norwegian Air. The scrappy airline out of Scandinavia has been flying to a handful of airports across the US of late, and racing to compete have been the domestic carriers. Competition is good, ergo prices across the board are affordable and travelers are happy, right?

Well, the airlines and their unions don’t like that. So they’re fighting tooth and nail to keep Norwegian out of the country and prices high. Their efforts have successfully convinced the transportation department to turn down the airline’s most recent applications to fly to from the U.S. from London — this while pulling in record profits.

Way to stay classy, airlines of America.

Social Quote of the Day

Thanks @RichardTrumka @AFLCIO for your work to mobilize against this rogue airline, time to finish job. http://bit.ly/1t2fz6W #denyNAI

@EdWytkind | Edward Wytkind, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

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Airlines

Smaller Seats, Crowded Planes Create Environment for Reclining Wars:
Squeezed into tighter and tighter spaces, airline passengers appear to be rebelling, taking their frustrations out on other fliers. Read more at Skift

Virgin Atlantic Focuses on U.S., Demotes Asia After Delta Tie-Up: Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. said it will add five daily U.S. flights, including a new route to Detroit, while scrapping services to cities including Tokyo and Mumbai following last year’s investment by Delta Air Lines Inc. Read more at Skift

Norwegian Air Fails to Get Approval for New Low-Cost Flights to U.S.: In a case that has labor and trade policy implications, the Obama administration on Tuesday rejected a request that would have immediately permitted a low-cost air carrier to begin flights between the U.S. and Europe while the government is still reviewing its application for new service. Read more at Skift

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Airports

Service Dogs on Airplanes to Get More Scrutiny From Department of Transportation: Some flyers are taking advantage of the restrictions placed on airlines by federal disability laws and claiming their pets are emotional support animals so they can avoid in-cabin pet fees and keep their furry friends by their side, disability groups and pet advocates say. Read more at Skift

Realistic Robo-Hawks Designed to Fly Around and Terrorize Real Birds: Birds are nice enough, unless you work at places like airports, farms, and landfills, in which case they’re the sworn enemy. Today, there are a variety of tools and technologies for spooking unwanted birds—but Nico Nijenhuis is undoubtedly working on the coolest. He’s building robot hawks that trick lingering critters into thinking they’re about to get snacked on. Read more at Wired

Mexico City’s New Airport to Be Designed by Norman Foster and Fernando Romero: British architect Norman Foster and Mexico’s Fernando Romero have had their design chosen for Mexico City’s new $9.2-billion airport, which is expected to quadruple the current airport’s capacity to 120 million passengers per year, authorities announced Wednesday. Read more at Skift

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Lawsuit Calls Delta’s Best Fare Guarantee “Fraudulent”: A lawsuit filed on August 7 in the Eastern District of Wisconsin Federal Court alleges that Delta Air Lines “employs sophisticated software” to keep Delta.com users from seeing the lowest available fares for connecting flights. Read more at Flyertalk

The Next Phase of Hotel and Airline Customer Service on Social Media: For airlines and hotels, customer touchpoints will continue to widen with further integration of social messaging and mobile-friendly apps that are more conducive to real-time feedback, both through alerts and push notifications and an on-call customer care specialist dedicated to fulfilling holiday travel wishes and personal milestones. This capability goes beyond logging into Facebook and Twitter on a mobile device. Read more at Skift

British Engineers Are Creating A Smart Skin For Planes So That They Can ‘Feel’ When They Are Damaged: When you get a cut or a scratch, your nerves freak out and tell your brain. In a millisecond, without even thinking about it, you know you’re hurt. But, when a plane’s exterior is damaged, its pilot doesn’t always realize it right away. Or, worse, in time to avert a crash. Read more at Business Insider

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Hotels

Starwood to Award Loyalty Points for Travel Booked on Behalf of Others:
Starwood Hotels and Resorts today announced an expansion of its Starwood Preferred Guests loyalty program that gives meeting and travel planning professionals the ability to earn points and status for any business that they book for employees and clients. Read more at Skift

As Hotel Prices Rise, Bonuses Sag: It isn’t your imagination: Hotel prices really are rising.  Hotels.com has just released its Hotel Pricing Index for the first six months of 2014. Read more at FrequentFlier

Marriott opens first Moxy hotel: Marriott’s new ‘lifestyle’ brand, Moxy Hotels, has opened its first property in Milan. The hotel giant claims investor interest in the brand has been ‘exceptional’ and it has already signed 11 Moxy hotels to open in Europe by the end of 2016. Read more at TravelMole

Saransk Plans ‘Portable Hotel’ to Cope With 2018 World Cup Tourists: FIFA World Cup organizers in Saransk, 630 kilometers east of Moscow, have signed a preliminary deal with Britain’s Snoozebox company to build a temporary “portable hotel” in the city during the 2018 tournament, the regional government’s investment department told Interfax. Read more at The Moscow Times

Your Turn

Speaking of Wendy Perrin, she’s got a great method for how to reserve airfare for up to three weeks over at her site. At only a few months old, her site is coming along quite nicely.

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to gm@skift.com and @grantkmartin. We publish the Business Newsletter twice a week on Monday and Thursday.

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Photo Credit: CEO of Norwegian Air Shuttle, Bjoern Kjos. Norwegian Air